Saturday, January 05, 2008

Dead Red

Is Hell the Blazing Saddles of eternity? Wouldn’t it just serve us right if we spent our entire life in search of an utterly inconceivable plane of existence, continually prostrating ourselves before the altar of Missed Opportunities and Roads Not Taken For Fear of Eternal Damnation, only to be deemed unfit for inclusion in the celestial realm of the Saints (no, Bubba, not the New Orleans Saints, pay attention for Christ’s sake), regardless of the fact that we selflessly (well, selflessly within reason, of course, why lie?) gave up the illicit pleasures of the flesh in recognition of an age-old (though arguable, by some) principle?

Then, when Dante (or alternately, some lower-echelon demon if Dante happens to be either indisposed or taking a break) greets us at the Precipice of Hades, what if we find out that he’s really quite cordial and nice? Suppose he puts his arm around our shoulder (not too tight, you understand, he isn’t coming onto us or anything like that; he’s not gay, he’s just friendly) and asks the general stuff… how was your trip, was the family sorry to see you go, did you allow anyone you don’t know to touch your baggage… yada yada yada… Then, very dramatically, he opens this massive door and tells us to prepare to meet The Master for our housing and work assignments.

So, we’re laying there, all scared-like and everything, when we hear, “So who are these schmucks? Certainly not “leading man” material… no, no, these will never do. Stand up, Sonny, let me get a better look at you!” Of course, at this point, we're feeling a little cheated and not a little annoyed. After all, haven't we spent an unprincipled lifetime preparing for this day? Oh, please... we didn't come all the way down here to be told that we don't measure up. We're bad, I tell you...

Slowly, we look up, expecting to see the Personification of Evil… the Grand Poohbah of Bad, the Main Man of Mellifluence… and when we can finally force ourselves to open our squinty eyes a crack, who is standing there? This puny little potato-faced man wearing a Gestapo uniform and a phony Hitler moustache. It couldn’t be… could it? Mel Brooks?

“What are you staring at? Haven’t you ever seen a self-loathing Jew before?” By now, he’s turned and walking away toward a desk sitting under a huge Swastika, ranting and muttering instructions to a tall, benign-looking man who looks exactly like Harvey Korman! I half-expected Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder to suddenly appear from stage left, tap-dancing to an ill-conceived, badly-sung duet version of If I Were A Rich Man. That, my friend, would be my concept of Hell!
Well, I can die happy now, at least. This eternity thing was really starting to bug me. Now that I’ve got it solved, I think I’ll go see if I can do something about the next twenty years or so. Maybe I can buy myself some extra time in purgatory, or in lieu of that, perhaps make a deal landing me in Heck. It’ll also give me some time to find a way to stop eating anchovies right before bedtime.

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